Order a witness to produce business records

If you only need to obtain business records from a witness, you can use a subpoena to order that the witness provide copies of business records, or permit copying of business records.

Before you start

You typically have the documents delivered to a copy service (or deposition officer)

In most cases, you'll ask the witness (a company or individual) to give the documents to a deposition officer so they can make copies.

A deposition officer for a business record subpeona is usually a professional photocopier that has registered with the county clerk. They're responsible for making copies of documents for the parties in a lawsuit. They charge a fee.

Alternately, you can also choose to inspect the records at your witness' location, but it's usually easier to use a deposition officer.

Call a photocopy shop and ask if they handle subpoenas or if they can act as deposition officers. To be a deposition officer they must be registered with the county. Many are not. You may need to contact several to find one that provides this service.

You will have to pay for the costs of copying

Be prepared to reimburse the witness for their costs. The witness will submit a bill when producing the records.

If you go to the business to inspect the original records rather than having them copied, the witness is still entitled to $15.

Witnesses are allowed to charge:

  • $0.10 per page for documents 8 ½” x 14” or less
  • $0.20 per page for copying documents from microfilm
  • Additional costs for oversize documents or documents requiring special processing

In addition, they are allowed to charge:

  • Clerical costs of $24 per hour per person for retrieval and copying of records
  • Postage costs
  • Costs for services of third parties, including retrieval from microfilm

There are special protections for phone records, e-mails, and texts

If you are subpoenaing evidence that includes phone records, email, social media, or texts you must get consent from the owner of those communications by having them sign a release.

Your local Self-Help Center or Law Library may be able to help you find the proper language for the specific release you need.

You must give notice to any consumer or employees whose records you seek

If you are subpoenaing evidence that includes consumer records or employee records of a company, you must give notice to the consumer or employee before serving the subpoena in order to give that person the opportunity to object to the production.

Learn how to give notice to a consumer or employee of the witness you subpoena

How to use a subpoena

  • Take a blank subpoena to court

    a member of the public showing documents to a court clerk

    Take a blank Deposition Subpoena for Production of Business Records (form SUBP-010) to your court clerk's office.

    The clerk will issue the subpoena. This means the clerk signs and stamps the subpoena before you fill it out. 

    Bring a separate one for each person, business, or agency you want to subpoena.

    A few courts post issued subpoenas online. The subpoena will have a Clerks' signature and stamp on them. Check on their website or call and ask if they have them available online.
  • Fill out your subpoena

    Complete the case information in the caption and write the name, address and phone number of the witness you wish to subpoena.

    In section 1, write in the information for the deposition officer you have selected, and the date and time for production (when the witness must bring the documents to the deposition officer.)

    Make sure you allow enough time for document production. 

    • The date of production should be at least 20 days from the date the summons was issued or 15 days from when the witness is served, whichever is later.
    • If you are seeking employee or consumer records, this date should be at least 30 days away.

    Use the check boxes to indicate:

    • If you want the witness to send copies of the documents to the deposition officer (This is the most common option)
    • If your deposition officer will go to the company and copy the records for you
    • If you or someone on your behalf will go to the business to copy the original records.

    If you choose the last option, you do not need a deposition officer. This is generally only practical if the business is local and you have a portable photocopier or scanner.

    In section 3, describe the documents or things you are requesting the witness to bring to the deposition.

    If you need more space, check the "continued in attachment" box and continue the description on an Attachment to Judicial Council Form (form MC-025). 

    The date, name, and signature at the bottom were filled in by the court.

    If the documents include consumer or employee of the person or business on the subpoena, you have to give notice to the consumer or employee at least five days (or longer if the notice is by mail) before you serve the subpoena on the witness.

    Learn how to give notice to the consumer or employee of the witness

  • Make copies

    Make at least 3 copies of your Subpoena form. One for you, one for the other party in your case (unless they were served in the previous step) and another for the person you need to subpoena.

    Keep the original for the court.

  • Deliver the subpoena

    illustration of hading papers to another person

    Hand deliver ("serve") a copy (not the original) of the Subpoena form to the person or business you are subpoenaing.

    Unlike the typical process for serving court papers, anyone over 18 - even you - can serve your subpoena. 


    In addition to the witness, you must also serve any other attorney or self-represented party in your case, although they typically can be served by mail.

    Corporations and LLCs typically have a designated person or law firm that you need to serve (agent for service of process). If they do business in California, their agent for service of process should be listed with the Secretary of State.
    Corporations or LLCs can request a different type of service for subpoenas, such as faxing the subpoena.
  • Fill out the Proof of Service

    Fill out page 3 of the original Subpoena, the Proof of Service.

    Have the person who delivered the Subpoena sign at the bottom-left of page 3.

    Ignore the signature line on the right-hand side. This is only used if a sheriff or marshal serves the subpoena.

  • Keep the original subpoena

    Keep the original Subpoena (and Notice to Consumer or Employee if you used one)

Once you've completed and served the subpoena, you can expect to get copies of the business records you requested.

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